Three major crises in Beethoven’s life — the acknowledgment of untreatable deafness, the loss of his ‘immortal beloved’, and the disastrous conclusion to the guardianship of his nephew Carl — gave rise to periods of intense creativity, as he sought to encapsulate and objectify elements of trauma through music. In thinking about three works from these periods — the ‘Eroica’ Symphony, the song cycle An die ferne Geliebte and the late Piano Sonata Op. 110 — Nicky Losseff discusses, with examples, ways in which musical elements can be associated with psychological states through stylistic references and external ideas. Following through Beethoven’s compositional schemes allows us to interpret some of the ways in which extreme emotional turbulence in these works was transformed; and how, in the process, therapeutic healing is enacted.
Nicky Losseff studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School as a child and then won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she graduated with a Distinction and the Lloyd Hartley prize. She taught in Iceland and India before completing a doctorate in historical musicology at King’s College, London. A senior lecturer at the University of York for over 20 years, Nicky taught, published books, articles, editions and reviews on subjects ranging through medieval polyphony, nineteenth-century cultural studies, psychoanalysis, the aesthetics of silence, and the music of Beethoven. She has broadcast for the BBC as a pianist and presenter, performed at international music festivals, and made recordings of contemporary piano music for the NMC label. In 2016, Nicky left academia to return to a life centred on the piano and now accompanies, performs and teaches full time.
This lecture prefaces YorkConcerts Online concerts marking the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. For details of the Wednesday evening YouTube premieres, follow the links below
4 November: David Owen Norris piano
18 November: Peter Sheppard Skaeved violin & Roderick Chadwick piano
25 November: Joshua Ellicott tenor & Nicky Losseff piano
2 December: Revolutionary Drawing Room